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A Longitudinal Time Series Analysis of the Foreign Affairs Issue: Agendas of the President, the Media, the Public
Unformatted Document Text:  Presidential PR efforts and Foreign Policy 24 Typically the top five issues are consistent over the time period of the study with general issues, trade, terrorism and arms control being four of the five issues. Events however, vary more over the period of the study. As with media coverage of foreign policy this happened time and time again over the course of the study, individual events (unrest in East Germany, the Gulf War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, involvement in Bosnia, and involvement in Somalia, for example) caused a change in event focus, though not really in issue focus. Limitations of the Study Since this study draws bivariate comparisons among the series, the simultaneous effects of third variables cannot be determined and controlled (Fan, 1988). Thus, this study provides an overview of the agenda relationships regarding foreign policy, but does not describe possible intervening variables or the interaction effects of multiple agendas. In addition to the question of obtrusiveness, the nature of the data itself may provide some conflict. For the public opinion measure, what does it mean when people respond “a foreign policy issue” if asked “What do you think is the most important problem facing the country today?” Furthermore, “What do you think is the most important question facing the country today?” not only forces a single response, but this response is more accurately a measure of attitude rather than awareness (Eaton, 1989). If the “most important question” data don’t really measure awareness, then they may not be a valid measure of public opinion for agenda-setting research. Implications for Future Research Future researchers should use multivariate analysis to determine if there are any interaction effects among the agendas included in this analysis. This would allow researchers to draw perhaps more accurate conclusions about potential intervening variables. Such an analysis could indicate relative strengths of the individual relationships shown in this study. This would assist in determining which agendas have the greatest influence on the other agendas at particular points in time.

Authors: Mitrook, Michael.
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Presidential PR efforts and Foreign Policy
24
Typically the top five issues are consistent over the time period of the study with
general issues, trade, terrorism and arms control being four of the five issues. Events
however, vary more over the period of the study. As with media coverage of foreign
policy this happened time and time again over the course of the study, individual events
(unrest in East Germany, the Gulf War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, involvement in
Bosnia, and involvement in Somalia, for example) caused a change in event focus, though
not really in issue focus.
Limitations of the Study
Since this study draws bivariate comparisons among the series, the simultaneous
effects of third variables cannot be determined and controlled (Fan, 1988). Thus, this
study provides an overview of the agenda relationships regarding foreign policy, but does
not describe possible intervening variables or the interaction effects of multiple agendas.
In addition to the question of obtrusiveness, the nature of the data itself may
provide some conflict. For the public opinion measure, what does it mean when people
respond “a foreign policy issue” if asked “What do you think is the most important
problem facing the country today?” Furthermore, “What do you think is the most
important question facing the country today?” not only forces a single response, but this
response is more accurately a measure of attitude rather than awareness (Eaton, 1989). If
the “most important question” data don’t really measure awareness, then they may not be
a valid measure of public opinion for agenda-setting research.
Implications for Future Research
Future researchers should use multivariate analysis to determine if there are any
interaction effects among the agendas included in this analysis. This would allow
researchers to draw perhaps more accurate conclusions about potential intervening
variables. Such an analysis could indicate relative strengths of the individual
relationships shown in this study. This would assist in determining which agendas have
the greatest influence on the other agendas at particular points in time.


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